What Our Editors Would Tell Their Younger Selves

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Experience comes with age, and some things we’ve had to learn the hard way. If only we could go back in time and guide our younger selves through some of those more significant (or flat-out embarrassing) moments—from career roadblocks to fashion faux pas. To that end, we at Team Zoe are offering up some wisdom—what we’ve found along our paths to be invaluable when it comes to fashion, beauty, career and love. Ahead, 13 things we wish we knew in our 20s.

Imaxtree

"Spend money on things you can wear for several seasons, such as work-appropriate trousers, versatile handbags, classic pumps or neutral blouses. I bought a black quilted Chanel bag years ago and it's been in rotation ever since—it's a worthy investment that stands the test of time."

—Shannon Nash, Jewelry & Accessories Editor

"I wish I would've placed more emphasis on wearing what I felt good in rather than adhering to trends just for the sake of participating. I was guilty of this in college especially, where groupthink ran rampant in fashion choices. Now I take an honest look at what works for my body type and what I feel most confident wearing, whether it's in or not."

—Kristi Mikesky, Features Editor

"When you're young, try the things that catch your eye as often as possible, and by nature you will narrow down to items and styles that work best for you."

—Laura Lajiness, New York Editor

Imaxtree

"I wish I'd worn sunscreen since day one! I played softball and was a football cheerleader for almost 15 years. All that time I was standing in the direct sunlight without proper UV protection. I have so many freckles now and my facialist tells me I have a few sun spots. The funny thing about sun damage is that it shows up years later."

—Stephanie Montes, Senior Beauty Editor

"I’ve always been a relative minimalist when it comes to my makeup routine, but there was a time when I packed on more foundation and bronzer than necessary. Looking back, it was a way for me to mask insecurities—now that I’m more comfortable with who I am (which I think comes naturally with age), I don't feel the need to cover up."

—Kristi Mikesky, Features Editor

"Starting a skincare routine at an early age is so important. The fact that I didn't moisturize or cleanse my face properly in my teens and college years sends me into a panic now. I truly believe a great complexion radiates from within and makes you feel good inside and out. Find products that work for you and apply religiously day and night. You'll be so thankful in the long run."

—Amy Lee, Associate Fashion Editor

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"Today's culture is geared toward overnight success, but I've seen that method backfire on a lot of people. To do anything well, you have to study it, work at it and fail at it. Getting followers on Instagram is not the same thing as learning a craft."

—Erin Nicole, Editor

"I never thought I'd end up in a beauty career, no matter how much I loved makeup. I went to school for fashion design and found a job designing socks for a major department store. You can study and be the best at what you do, but nothing prepares you for the moment you settle into the role you worked so hard for only to realize you don't like it. Realize your strengths, and don't get stuck in a job you don't love."

—Stephanie Montes, Senior Beauty Editor

"My soul would die in a job I don't love, so I have a hard time understanding people who aren't so tied to passion when it comes to work. If you choose to compromise your desires for money, you'll probably have a Britney Spears circa 2007 meltdown at some point. Discover what you feel strongly about and go for it, no matter how scared you are. If you don't, you'll always end up wondering, What if?"

—Erin Nicole, Editor

"Be creative about finding the right job for you. Do what you love, work toward it during your free time and network while doing so. Contacting and fostering relationships with people in the field you're interested in is crucial."

—Nicky Deam, Editorial Director

Imaxtree

"I’ve never been the girl constantly seeing someone or going on dates, and even when I tried to be, it never felt authentic. If I wasn't feeling it, I simply wouldn't pursue it. I've spent a lot of my life as a single girl, which I'm thankful for because I truly had the bandwidth for quality time with my best friends. Now, I've met someone who fits the true definition of a partner and I couldn't be happier. I was right not talking myself into things all that time just to be with someone—the perfect person is worth the wait."

—Kristi Mikesky, Features Editor

"Don't put people in a box. Often those you don't expect to have a connection with are the ones that surprise you."

—Laura Lajiness, New York Editor

"If something doesn't feel right in a relationship, it isn't. I once dated someone who was mean, incredibly jealous and overbearing. It was scary, but I was young and thought everything would work out. Of course, it didn't, and I'm still so thankful I was able to snap out of it. I learned from it though. It made me stronger and helped me see exactly what a relationship shouldn't be."

—Stephanie Montes, Senior Beauty Editor